AUSTRIA 79 MIN, 2019
Robolove reflects on the strategies of men and women involved with the creation of humanoid, android robots. Robots that will perhaps one day expand the human body and human life. From an exciting variety of perspectives we understand the immense complexity of this topic. Featuring Japanese robotics guru, Hiroshi Ishiguro, to the transhumanist, Natasha Vita More — and many more. While the difference between humans and androids is gradually washing away, the tension between technology and social responsibility is growing as much as utopian visions are further expanding. From this mosaic, a tense ambivalence emerges, that questions these futuristic technologies — and is full of love for those who dare to create these new machines that try to mirror our humanness.
Works and lives with her family in Vienna. Studied metal sculpture in France, film and intercultural competence in Austria. Director of films Father Mother Donor Child (2017), Future Baby (2016), Looking For QI (2011), A White Substance (2008), Loud and Clear (2002), Rubber Chicken Born at Home (1998). Also worked on script and research for films by Nikolaus Geyrhalter: Homo Sapiens (2016), Abendland (2011), 7915 Km (2008) and Our Daily Bread (2005).
The creation of human-like subjects is an age-old dream of humanity — the technology of the 21st century promises new possibilities to make this dream of a perfect being become a reality. Thanks to artificial intelligence and skin-like silicon, we have reached a point today where it appears possible to manufacture machines with a human appearance that are also seemingly capable of mirroring a human mind.
Humanoid robots, androids, and sex robots arouse curiosity, provoke fears, and fuel fantasies of power as well. Individual instances of well-marketed prototypes are celebrated in the media nowadays.
But why do we need such machines, such copies of humans? What longings are we actually attempting to satisfy here? Why is the majority of our energy spent on developing robots in female form? What does it look like when individual prototypes are confronted with interested but unprepared potential consumers or customers? Do androids hold up to reality? Do these fantasy creatures measure up to their promises even to the slightest degree?
To put it plainly, while shooting the film we were repeatedly disappointed at how little these human-like robots are actually already able to do: no question of possessing perfect bodies, not even close to successfully copying our brilliant locomotor system, or to competing with our finely attuned senses. Not to mention their cognitive weaknesses — our thought structures, our capacity for dialogue, our capacity for empathy all have to be reverse engineered in an extraordinarily simplified manner through incredibly laborious processes. In the best-case scenario, these creatures have access to response options — they are really still years away from developing free and human-independent cognition, their own minds, or reason.
In spite of all their shortcomings, when we come face to face with them we light up at their appearance, their movements, their seductive blinking, and their limited capacity for dialogue. We (actually, our brainstem) are drilled to immediately recognize and categorise the human-like other — anything with eyes becomes anthropomorphised, humanised. When we then see ourselves reflected in a counterpart, we are gladly willing to establish a relationship.
The only genuine object of interest here is and remains the human being: the complexity of the human mind, the intricate motor skills of the human body, the creative conceptual abundance — all of these feats will not be replicated that quickly or easily!
Therefore, it is not at all necessary to merely foment fear by proclaiming the imminent supremacy of the new «others», at least not in the social realm. I believe the issue is more to consider calmly what this phenomenon could have in store for our private lives and whether we are equipped for it as a society. Equipped to understand how WE function; that’s what we learn when we aim to program machines to be humans — and there lies the real danger too (and the affront to human beings by machines): that our individualism, our stature, our supposed uniqueness will be exposed as nonsense. Coupled with the loneliness that is increasingly rampant among humans in highly technological industrial nations, we become vulnerable to canned humanity — it starts with the female voice giving us directions when we use Google Maps, and extends to the Amazon Echo that we voluntarily place in our living rooms.
Technology doesn’t fall from the sky. We humans are the ones that create technology, code programs, store our biases unintentionally in algorithms. The «evil» that frightens us is at the same time that which we now make use of every single day. We should embrace
self-reflection when it comes to our own interaction with new technologies.
So, who are we going to discover in our humanoid mirror images?
Letting go in the dark space of a cinema and immersing one’s self in the illusion of a robot world is a lovely parable for how much we as societies seem to enjoy groping around in the dark again and again in order to keep our own illusions intact.
It is the new «others» that we are creating who we will encounter more and more frequently in the future — and whose arrival in our midst must be discussed and consciously shaped.
- DOK Leipzig
- Future Gate Sci-Fi Film Festival Prague
DOKer 2020 — Let IT dok!